KFC – Not too Chicken to own up to their problems in this PR strategy masterclass

Imagine being a bakery without bread, a coffee shop without coffee – or perhaps a chicken restaurant without chicken.  Even if the unimaginable happens to your business, it doesn’t need to end in a #disaster.  It is, sometimes, possible to turn a disaster into an opportunity through the utilisation of a well-thought-out PR strategy. 

Well, that’s exactly what happened to the UK arm of fast-food giant KFC earlier this month.  After changing chicken suppliers, KFC were left without chicken for a number of days.  Instead, franchisees were faced with the decision to either shut up shop or only offer popcorn chicken, coleslaw and gravy.  Not ideal.  

So what do you in this situation?  Do you sweep the problem under the carpet and hope no one notices (hint: this is never the answer) or do you face the music by acknowledging the blunder and move on? 

KFC chose the latter – and might I add, nailed its execution.  Taking out full page advertisements in local papers across the UK, the chicken retailer issued the following statement:

What do we think of KFC’s strategy? 

KFC’s response was brilliant.  This finger-licking good PR strategy contains all the necessary ingredients for a successful outcome.  KFC’s combination of humour (by playing on the acronym of KFC), with the frankness of the circumstance, is a great way to own up to an unfortunate situation.

The Twittersphere shared the love, and also enjoyed the strategy employed by KFC with some users saying: 

Schofe Tweets, AndrewBloch Tweets, yachtsforsalebl Tweets

Some Twitter users were less than impressed with the fact that they had been brought into the #KFCCrisis – with one local police twitter account having to explain that KFC lacking stock had nothing to do with them: MPSTowerHam Tweets

Key takeaways from the #KFCrisis

  • Own it!  Mistakes can happen to the best of us.  Owning the situation takes the speculation element out of the scandal and allows you to control what gets said about your brand.  You should always take the opportunity to clarify the situation.  It’s important that when you do address the issue by making a public statement, that you don’t come across as either defensive or argumentative – but instead take the opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused to any affected customers.
  • Be brief.  Short, sharp and simple statements pack a bunch and are more effective – particularly if you are making your statement on social media.  On average, a social media user will only spend a few seconds reading a post.  
  • Stand out!  With the limited amount of time you have to make an impression on social media users, it’s important for you to devise a strategy that is likely to catch their attention.

Whether or not profanities are in your vocabulary, it is human nature to be intrigued by such language, particularly when used in print media.  KFC cleverly danced around the line, by rearranging the letters in their logo to draw readers in and to dupe them into thinking the f-bomb was dropped.  Whilst we don’t recommend dropping profanities in your next PR statement, it might be worth having a think about including some eye catching and clever material that appeals to the curiosity of your readers.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation to the #KFCcrisis?  Tweet us your mishap and let me know how you handled the situation @ColemanGreig!  

If you would like to receive our regular legal updates, please subscribe here.  Alternatively, if you would like to speak with one of the lawyers in Coleman Greig’s Brand Protection team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 02 9895 9230, or via info@colemangreig.com.au.


Send an enquiry

Any personal information you provide is collected pursuant to our Privacy Policy.


More posts

Understanding roles in the strata scheme

A strata scheme is a building or group of buildings that have been divided into lots which can be apartments, villas, offices, units or townhouses. This will be articulated in the strata plan.

Can i put my home on Airbnb?

Airbnb is a form of short-term rental accommodation. To add your property to Airbnb in NSW, you are required to meet several laws and regulations governing short-term rentals.

When are liquidators required to seek approval to retain legal counsel?

When does a liquidator (or the company he or she is appointed to) need court, creditor, or committee approval to validly retain a solicitor to act in a liquidation matter which is likely to extend for longer than three months?  The answer to this question has only recently been settled.

Proposed changes to building and construction law in NSW

The Building Bill 2022 (the Bill) is the key avenue through which the NSW Government has proposed to reshape the culture of the building and construction industry by eliminating poor performance and improving the quality of building statewide.

Can you dismiss an employee who fails to return to the office?

Slowly but surely, most employers are requiring employees to return to the office for at least a portion of their working week. Some employers continue to struggle with employees resistant to returning to the office or those who have an expectation that they can continue to work from home whenever it suits them.

New powers to combat phoenixing in construction

The rise of phoenixing in the building and construction industry in Australia in recent years has proved a significant challenge to regulators. Mismanagement of time or cashflow can quickly propel businesses into insolvency.

The NSW Building Commission’s extraordinary powers

In late 2023, the NSW Government passed the Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 (Amendment Bill). The Amendment Bill established the NSW Building Commission and granted it extraordinary powers to enter construction sites, inspect work and take away information and materials.

© 2024 Coleman Greig Lawyers   |  Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. ABN 73 125 176 230